Saturday, April 30, 2011

Election 2011

I tend to keep my (admittedly unusual) politics to myself, and for the most part I intend to continue doing so. However, within the context of the upcoming election, there are a few things I feel need to be said.

It is more important to keep the ruling party in check than it is to select one you think will make the most agreeable decisions. All parties make disagreeable decisions when you least expect it, but one that is left unchecked has the potential to make decisions that are orders of magnitude worse. Re-electing a party that was found to be in contempt of Parliament not only overrules one of the controls that are meant to keep political parties in check, it makes it toothless. The electorate would be sending the message that they don't care about the corruption that lead to that finding, making it unlikely that control would be used again, even if necessary, and thus opening the door for worse corruption in the future. 

Election platforms, for all the promise they hold, amount to very little when compared to the totality of a party's actions during their term in office. And most of us know how full of empty promises those platforms wind up being. Election platforms are in a very real sense a kind of political advertising, and just as The Whopper never looks quite as good in person as it does on the TV screen, the same principle holds true for the disparity between a party's platform and real actions.

I've heard that in order to have a legitimate political viewpoint you have to participate in the political process by voting, but I know that most people expend little or no political capital beyond election day. They cast their ballot and hope for the best, like it was some kind of lottery - and, to the extent that it's impossible to predict who will actually make the best decisions for us individually or for the country, it really is just the luck of the draw. One's political capital goes to waste by blindly selecting a party (or nearly blindly selecting based on election platforms) and then sitting back down and watching the next government unfold like spectators watching a sporting event. One's political capital would be better spent by selecting the party that is least corrupt and most open to being persuaded by the people they are meant to represent and then actively lobbying on the matters one finds most important throughout the party's term in office.

A party that refuses to answer questions about the costs of it's programs (thus bringing down the government and triggering the election), or whose leader issues a policy (be it about copyright reform or anything else) that amounts to "I don't care what you do, just make the Americans happy" doesn't seem like a party that is interested in being answerable or accountable to the people they claim to represent. A party whose leader replaces a hallway full of pictures of past Prime Ministers with a hallway full of pictures of himself, or renames the government after himself, doesn't seem like the party that is the least corrupt.

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